Tag Archives: pinterest

How Social Media is Making Holiday Shopping Easier

It’s that time of year when everyone is busy. Everyone is busy trying to wrap up the million things they have going on – work, holiday travel plans and most importantly Holiday Shopping (you know, going through that list to make sure you’ve bought a present for everyone, or everyone who has been nice this past year.)

Sometimes you know exactly what to get everyone on that list, and sometimes you don’t have a clue. This year, I have turned to Social Media for gift ideas. Now more than ever, our favorite social networks are saturated with ads and promotions – while sometimes this is annoying, around the Holidays – take advantage and use it as a resource!

Let’s look into three {of my favorite} channels – Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook and I will explain how easy they make giving the perfect gift.


Pinterest is the place where you go to browse beautiful photos of food,  fashion, homes, etc. You dream of those photos entering your real life and while we repin to remember these things and plan to make them a part of our lives someday, the great thing is, around the holidays instead of focussing on what YOU want, pick a girl (or guy) on your list and go scope out their boards. Chances are you will find a great gift idea. What is the last thing you pinned? You would love to be surprised with that scarf, necklace, sweater or hot chocolate. For more information, click here.

Secret Boards: You can make a different secret board for three different recipients that you wish to shop for, or have one all inclusive holiday shopping board for all of the people you plan to buy gifts for- the idea is the same. Not only will this get your creative juices flowing and provide you with many ideas from Pinterest, where anything and everything is pinned, but if done in enough advance, you will most likely be able to order any item that you pin onto your boards with ease online.


The great thing about following brands on Instagram, is that brands get it – they are creating streams of content that resonate with me as a person and as a shopper. If you want a list of brands that are doing it right – check this out.

Brands do a great job of intermixing inspirational content with promotions for their products.  You automatically check Instagram daily (or hourly) and you constantly see the inspirational content from your sister’s favorite brand, boyfriend’s favorite football team or your mom’s favorite jeweler.  So when you spot a sale or promotion from that same brand, go find a product in your price range and check it off the list! Below are some examples if you need a heads up on what to look for.


While most are not fans of online ads, sometimes you have to wonder do FB ads know you better than you know yourself? Say you looked at Zappos last week hoping to find some gift ideas for someone special and a week later, isn’t it strange how there is a Zappos promotion in your stream for 30% off online orders? Take advantage! Go back and get the shoes your mom or daughter really wants!  Use that Facebook ad reminder as a little kick to get it done, make the purchase!

The great thing about using social media for Holiday shopping inspiration is that most of the time, they are a couple clicks away from a purchase and check mark off your list. Instead of becoming overwhelmed this holiday season and ignoring the flood of branded posts, let these social sites give you the ideas, deals and promotions you need to complete your Holiday shopping!


Who Do Millennials Trust?

It’s one of the most daunting tasks in human existence, something we all avoid but know we must do eventually, get back to or manipulate to make seem far worse… living a healthy lifestyle. From the next celebrity fab diet to the local health food store touting the new miracle drug for weight loss, living a healthy lifestyle seems to be the trendy thing to do but how does the next generation filter through all of the hype to truly get the information they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle from credible sources? Through blogger outreach.

See the food, be the food

Millennials are savvy when it comes to marketing, we don’t trust the television advertisement touting the “miracle diet food,” we’ve seen it, tried it, lost it and gained it all back.  You know what we do trust though? We trust our friends, family and followers, who are just like us, for the best recommendations to make that cauliflower mash actually taste like mashed potatoes. Visual sites like Pinterest and Chef This Up give us a clear picture of someone else who made the recipe and it worked for them, why can’t it work for us?

My menu planning every week, like many millennials, revolves around what I have previously pinned onto my healthier eating or foodie Pinterest boards.  From dinners to snacks to desserts I now have the ability to see on my phone all of the ingredients I need while shopping and exactly how it should look while I am cooking.  There is no pen and paper needed or a questionable staged picture in a cookbook giving me unrealistic hope of my casserole actually turning out like that, because whose really does?

Anything you are looking for you can find on Pinterest; need a healthier pizza recipe? Just do a quick search and you will magically see everything from a healthy meat lovers pizza to a gluten free spaghetti squash crust. These photos aren’t staged or photographed by professional photographers in a studio, they are (mostly) made by real at-home cooks, like me, who just want to live healthier lives and maybe eat that last bit of chocolate for dessert without feeling as guilty. Savvy brands who are looking to reach this millennial consumer need to not only utilize sites such as Pinterest to show off their own recipes but they need to especially cultivate that user generated content that was created by existing advocates of their brand. According to a recent study by Black Pearl Intelligence, user generated content on company websites influences more than 80 percent of millennial purchases. Millennials will reward brands who enable and generate this content if it is authentic and relevant, not just staged, paid for or a recopy of their own recipes. This has to be truly user generated and replicable to the everyday consumer.

Constant Connectivity = Required Transparency

Millennials are constantly connected, in fact 50 percent of them would give up their sense of smell before giving up their access to technology! This constant connectedness means that they can (and will) fact check any of the brands they are interested in, especially when it comes to nutrition labels and claims like “organic” and “gluten free.” Food companies must be completely transparent in sharing all of the information about their product, good and bad, because if you don’t millennials will find out very quickly and expose you. Milllennials are loyal to the brands who share the truth with them and will have an honest conversation about their product or make health information readily available. Be credible, be a resource and be that shining example that others wish to follow because millennials will appreciate that and in turn remain loyal to your brand.

Now We’re Cooking Social Media…With Gas!

Last week I had the privilege of speaking about social media to a group of marketing and communications professionals at the Southern Gas Association Marketing and Customer Experience Conference.

I’ve given similar presentations a number of times in the past and led a discussion not dissimilar from those we have with clients. Social media and content marketing are not the tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest that get all the attention from mainstream media. Effective social strategies create real relationships between your brand and your customers or clients. Companies who understand this leverage those headline-generating tools to add value to their customers’ lives.

At the SGA event, I found myself in a room of 30 or so folks all wondering how to use social to talk about more than utility rates and service outages in a heavily regulated industry. We discussed the role that Twitter can play in crisis communications; in times of true emergencies, companies and citizens alike publish news via this microblogging platform at lightening speeds compared to the broadcast news. Pinterest also came up as a highly engaging way to add value for gas customers. Imagine a company that posted photos of innovative kitchen designs (that featured gas appliances) or that showcased new homes with the latest energy efficient technologies (many of which may have nothing to do with natural gas.)

Companies that move in this direction will win as they transform in customer’s eyes from a standard provider of a commodity product into a trusted resource for inspiration and information. As our session ended, the attendees left the room with more questions than when they arrived, and that was a good thing. Instead of seeking the next new widget to put on their website, they left thinking about how to engage their customers in a conversation…one that leads to real relationships and adds value for everyone.

Shopping Begins Online

More than ever, the shopping process begins online. Average people search Google to find product reviews before ever leaving their home. They go to retail websites, blogs and ask their online friends looking for opinions about the product they are looking to purchase.

The other day I received a text from a friend who is not a blogger and is typically very un-techy. She had gone online to research and read product reviews on a blog before choosing a particular makeup product. She thanked me profusely and said that without my influence she would have not known to do that.

That incident reinforced everything I believe about shopping today; modern consumers value information about products before they purchase and not just information provided by the company.  They look for real reviews by real consumers and see bloggers as a trusted source.

Although the consumers reading blogs may not know the blogger personally, the relationship cultivated through the blogger’s product reviews, recipes and personal stories become real to the consumer. Bloggers interact with their readers either through comments, email or social media outlets. (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest are primary traffic drivers today.) When a consumer connects personally with a blogger, they become loyal to what the blogger promotes because of a relationship built on trust.

Brands have become increasingly aware of content marketing and are scrambling to keep up with this change in consumer behavior. Recently, the Harvard Business Review did a piece on this sharing, “…today consumers are more promiscuous in their brand relationships: they connect with myriad brands, through media channels beyond the manufacturer’s or retailer’s control or even knowledge”.

This market shift benefits the consumer, but many brands have been slow to respond to it. Brands that have succeeded during this change have gotten on board with blogging and the social world, reaching out for honest opinions to be shared with these micro-publishers’ loyal consumers.

Suggestions for Crowdsourcing Content

Written by Ted Rubin


Every business needs content in order to be found in search, and to differentiate them from the competition. Without quality, helpful content (and lots of it), you’re lost in a school of fish that are all the same color. Who’s going to find you? Who’s going to pick you?

The trouble with content development is that it can be expensive. Website copy, blog articles, e-books, reports—they all take time and effort (and dollars) to produce. However without them, you really can’t do an effective job of marketing your business—especially in the social age. It’s the classic chicken-or-the-egg syndrome. The more social our businesses become, the more we need that variety of content that speaks to our listeners and helps them solve their problems so we can A: get their attention, and B: develop relationships with them.

The bad news is that most companies still don’t understand the relationship between content marketing and relationship building. Investing in content is absolutely essential—whether you’re writing it in-house or outsourcing it, and I personally believe bloggers create some of the most engaging, relevant, and worthwhile content for brands when managed strategically. The good news is that if you know who your customers are and where they look for and share content, you can use crowdsourcing to have others help you write the kind of truly helpful stuff that your market is looking for. Developing a steady stream of user-generated content isn’t free, but the BEST news is that this type of content is trusted by more people and produces better return than most advertising that uses “marketing speak.”

Here are a few suggestions for crowdsourcing content:

Blogger Outreach: There are two ways to approach this. I’ve seen some companies (like manufacturers or retailers) have their marketing directors research influential bloggers in their niche and pitch them on doing reviews of their products—offering to send a sample to use. However, this can be hit-or-miss, not very efficient and it does not incorporate story telling, or insert the product in the lives of the users. Another way to approach it (and the one I prefer) is to develop relationships with a set of bloggers, and pay them to create the content around a strategic set of goals and incorporated into lifestyle. Bloggers are micro publishers and deserve to get paid for their work. I think this approach to blogger outreach produces the best results if you want a constant stream of relevant, user-generated, authentic content. It requires a great deal of management, relationship building and strategy, but can be outsourced and managed with the right partner.

Blog Interaction: On your own blog, floating a concept or question about your brand and asking for responses can be a good way to encourage subscriber interaction. You never know when a really good response will trigger a connection and deeper conversation. I often find that asking and answering these kinds of questions (both on my blog and others) leads to more relationships, which results in more content-building opportunities. Always be thinking of ways to encourage response…. and make the questions, and the process, EASY!

Video/Visual Contests: Using Contests on social platforms such as YouTube or Pinterest can encourage user-generated videos or photo boards that portray your brand in positive light. I wouldn’t put all my eggs into this basket, but it can be a fun way to garner graphic and video content you can use in other places to build the kind of “social proof” that helps you win hearts and minds.

Co-authoring thought leadership pieces: This is where your relationship rubber meets the road, so to speak. Co-authoring books and e-books with a peer (or set of peers) requires that you have a solid relationship with your co-author(s), which will stand the stress of time-management issues and headaches that go along with getting published. However, the result of a successful collaboration here can garner wonderful results that would be difficult to achieve if you had to do it all yourself. We’re all stressed for time, so think of ways you can reach out to your peers and colleagues to crowdsource all kinds of thought-leadership pieces, such as case studies, white papers, e-books, books, webinars and videos.

You can see that all of these examples rely on collaboration—which is the cornerstone to getting the best Return on Relationship. In my opinion, planning a good content strategy should always include finding ways to crowdsource, whether it’s tapping your customers to find out what their needs are or how they view your industry, to building on your relationships with your peers to produce thought-leadership pieces. At the end of the day, your content should make everyone you deal with (your prospects AND your peers) comfortable with your brand—and using input from others to create value-oriented content can be a good way to make your brand more approachable (for more on this, check out the video (ROR: Return on Relationship™–Will They Buy from Me?).

There are lots of ways you can use crowdsourcing to build value in your organization, your personal brand, and enhance both. Don’t wait for a comprehensive strategy… start now



Where Your True Value Lies Online

Written by Sandy Jenney

Outreach and networking can make you feel like you are navigating a tangled web. Submit a blog post, then be sure to tweet it, place it on Facebook – what about Pinterest? Did you tweet out your Pinterest link? Are there buttons on your blog that lead to all your verticals? Do your verticals connect with each other? Did you tag this person or that blog post to twitter or Facebook? Are you checking in on Foursquare or Path? It goes on and on.

There are so many ways we can connect and so many ways we can interact, but if there is no one behind all the outreach what is it worth? You might get all the “connections” correct so that your web isn’t so tangled anymore, but are you in the web? Are you connecting and engaging?

We get so caught up with getting the information out to as many people as are willing to read it, but we often forget to talk to those people. That is the best way to have people read what we have to offer, to trust us and come back to us. It is also the best way for us to get to know who we are talking to, learn new things ourselves and find value in their resources.

Time seems to be the biggest obstacle we face. There isn’t enough of it. To learn everything we need to know about every app, download, plugin and social media tool. To utilize them all to their fullest abilities. To discover the person behind each twitter handle or Facebook page we chat with. To look at their blogs and really understand where they are coming from.

In this busy tech world, we know we can’t “do it all”. We might want to, but if we overextend ourselves in too many social networks, too many communities, too many apps and other tools we will be spread too thin to be effective.

Find your niche, enjoy social media, always be looking to learn more and stay open to new things, and most importantly – ENGAGE!  Talk to the people behind the avatars, twitter handles and Facebook pages. That is where your true value lies!

Pinterest Image Pinner From Collective Bias

Written  by Jay Thornton

As most of you have noticed, the dev team over at Collective Bias have been hard at work developing new technology to capture, syndicate, and analyze shopper behavior over the past few months. Our latest offering to that effort is our Pinterest Image Pinner for WordPress blogs.

The concept was simple. Create a plugin that allows each image (over a certain size) to be pinned simply to pinterest by anyone who visits the blog. Execution was fairly simple. Chris Whittle, our resident mad scientist, mixed up some jQuery magic that automatically appends Pinterest code to any images it finds. The result is a very simple to use plugin that does just what you want it to do… syndicate your posts and images to Pinterest.

All you’ve got to do to add the Pinterest Image Pinner from Collective Bias is download the plugin from WordPress, install the plugin and activate away. There are only a few settings that you’ll have to address:

  • JQuery selector for what images are, and are not to be pinned
  • Minimum width and height of image to be pinned

Basically, tell it what to do. Don’t want your author avatar to be pinned, set your minimum sizes to something larger than the size of the avatar or mark the div name of the avatar in the “JQuery selector for what images are not to be pinned.

So that’s about it. Visit WordPress and download away! To this point, we’ve already had about 125 downloads and only a couple of bugs. Should you have any bugs, post them at WordPress and we’ll take care of it as soon as possible. Also, we’d love to get some ratings so if you love the plugin, throw a few stars our way!

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